If your business is one of many sending staff to work from home in recent days, there’s a lot to think about. One of the major concerns we’re hearing though is this; how can organisations maintain their productivity levels as everyone transitions to working offsite?
For most organisations, allowing staff to work from home is nothing new, but when the entire business is physically separated from each other for weeks (or longer) on end, this presents entirely new challenges.
The good news, though? It’s nothing insurmountable, and your business can still maintain great productivity and performance despite these circumstances. Let’s look at what you can put in place now to make the transition to remote work as smooth as possible and keep everyone doing their best work.
No surprises here, but communication barriers are naturally one of the biggest challenges that arise from widespread remote work. Keeping everyone on the same page and in constant contact is essential.
Luckily, there are endless tools we can use today to keep communication flowing even when your teams are separated. These are some of our favourites that we use at intelli:
Now while we’re on this topic, it’s also worth noting that in keeping communication flowing, we also want a good balance between staying open but also not bombarding others with constant contact that can be distracting. This simply comes down to remembering there is a person on the end of every message, and continuing to respect their time and headspace just like you would in a normal environment. The balance for us is still reaching out to people where needed, but also not expecting instant responses. Try to keep contact within core business hours and opt for Slack or email over unscheduled phone calls where possible. We love using Slack because users can snooze their notifications, helping them to stay focused on deep work and then come back to their inbox once it’s done.
Continuous Feedback is also a must to ensure key issues or information isn’t slipping through the cracks. If you’re engaging in continuous feedback already (if not, now’s a good time to start) be sure to keep this going. If you’re already running it online, you don’t need to change a thing!
It’s also important that measuring performance doesn’t fall by the wayside just because we’re not in the office. Even when your leaders aren’t face-to-face with their teams every day, performance can continue being tracked and monitored continuously.
How? Make sure you have one centralised, online space to record every employee’s goals and allow them to update their records when milestones are hit or tasks progressed. This gives leaders visibility over how their teams are performing, while HR can have visibility over the entire organisation’s performance – from anywhere in the world!
On top of this visibility, the other key benefit of tracking goals across the organisation is it helps keep everyone accountable. To close the loop and get maximum benefit from this process, be sure to have managers keep up fortnightly or monthly one-on-one check-ins with their team members to chat through these goals. This improves the transition to remote work greatly. This not only holds everyone to account, but more importantly, it provides an opportunity for people to ask for help if they’re facing a roadblock, or get some advice from their leader to improve performance.
Team meetings can still take place online, so there’s no need to put your Monday morning stand-ups or regular team meetings on hold. These are important for ensuring tasks are being spread across the team effectively, holding everyone accountable for helping each other and limiting feelings of isolation as much as possible. Our tip is to make the meeting feel as “real” and personal as possible, so try a regularly scheduled group video call.
Another tip to add accountability and make these meetings work is to ensure they have a set structure. This helps the meeting run to time, sets expectations for everyone to come prepared, and ensures the meeting is productive! If you don’t already have something similar in place, it could be as simple as having everyone contribute 3 things they’ve been working on last week, 3 things they’re focusing on this week, one win they’ve had, and one challenge they’re facing that the team might be able to help with. Be sure to share this structure with teams ahead of time so they can be prepared with their contributions when it comes time for the next team catch-up.
Now more than ever we need to remind ourselves that when it comes to non-time-sensitive work our focus should be on people’s outputs, and less on the hours they worked or what time of day that work was completed. While you want everyone to be available to communicate with their teams during core business hours, we will all need to be somewhat flexible around when work gets completed.
When staff aren’t used to working from home on the regular, it will take some time to adjust to a new schedule, and more importantly the distractions that can come with the home environment. In particular, be conscious of those team members who are trying to work with children at home, those who live in shared accommodation or those with extended families. Even needy pets can be a handful when you’re not used to working in a room with them all day!
This means some staff may find it easier to be productive and do their best work at odd hours of the night, or really early in the morning. Our take on this is? As long as the work is getting done in a timely way and to a high standard, does it really matter when it happens? Not really.
While there’s no way to enforce how people go about their work from home routine, dedicated workers will still be motivated to do great work and be open to tips on how to achieve that. Consider sending out some communication to staff about how they can successfully transition to remote work. Here are some of our personal tips to get you started:
These are some of the things we’re doing to make our transition to remote work as painless as possible! We hope you’ve learned something that will help you do the same, and maintain great productivity while you’re at it.